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The reality behind China's 'green power'

By Arthur Thomas - posted Friday, 9 October 2009

Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong loudly applauded “China’s historic shift on climate change” in Hu Jintao’s commitment to reduce China’s carbon emissions at the G20. One can only hope that such praise was prior to the lack of detail and the implications in Hu Jintao’s commitment explained to them.

Plant earth requires firm commitments to reduce total emissions and this is no time for world leaders to be playing with words.

China is the world’s biggest polluter and Hu Jintao’s “commitment” is meaningless in practical terms. Agreeing with such a flawed concept is a backward step and those seeing it as a positive move are only playing politics, and ignoring their responsibility and duty of care to those who elected them and to future generations.


China has used George Bush’s flawed energy intensity concept as a move to embarrass the US and a strategy to gain room to manoeuvre as it proceeds with its coal fired energy and industrial expansion programs, Kyoto, and WTO tariff issues.

China’s wind energy

Since 2007, China has been promoting its image as a major green energy power, by focusing attention on its rapidly growing wind generation capacity.

Not only is China constructing large-scale wind generation facilities, it has achieved its goal to become a major manufacturer and supplier of key licensed components as well as turnkey Chinese designed systems for domestic and export markets.

In the run up to Pittsburgh and Copenhagen, China is promoting its renewable energy target of 15 per cent of total energy needs by 2020. In a bid to deflect rising criticism of its huge coal fired power generation expansion plans, China is also promoting its intention to create “green cities” powered by huge wind farms.

In its rush to highlight its “green credentials” and exploit Kyoto’s profitable CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) financial incentives before they terminate in 2011, China ignored basic principles in effectively managing wind generation.

China’s wind and solar energy are now serious joint contributors to regional and national GDP. Following incentive announcements, wind and solar have given a boost to China’s stock markets and any contraction in wind and solar demand will affect the economy and stock markets.


Wind farm capacity

Since 2005, investment in China's wind power sector has grown 100 per cent per annum. China’s projected total generating capacity for 2020 is 1,500GW, of which wind generation will contribute just over 8 per cent.

China is well under way to achieving its 2020 target of seven major wind generating bases producing 120GW of electricity. Average capacity for each base is 10GW, the equivalent of 10 standard mid-sized coal fired base-load power stations at each site.

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About the Author

Arthur Thomas is retired. He has extensive experience in the old Soviet, the new Russia, China, Central Asia and South East Asia.

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